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Black Miners Kill Two White Policemen

January 22, 1986

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Authorities sealed off a black township west of Johannesburg today to look for dead and wounded members of a mob that killed a pair of white policemen who tried to break up an illegal outdoor meeting of black gold miners.

The policemen were stabbed and clubbed to death Tuesday night by about 500 rioting black gold miners, who seized the slain officers’ weapons and fled into the Bekkersdal township, police said.

A riot squad was called in, and police said today four blacks were killed and 31 others were injured in the assault, at least some of them by gunfire.

Elsewhere, anti-apartheid activist Winnie Mandela appeared today in Krugersdorp Regional Magistrate’s Court west of Johannesburg in connection with her arrest Dec. 30 for entering the Johannesburg Magisterial District which includes her home in the black township of Soweto.

The government banned Mrs. Mandela from the district Dec. 21. Her husband, Nelson Mandela, imprisoned for life for planning sabotage, is considered the most influential leader of South Africa’s 24 million blacks.

Mrs. Mandela, 50, has yet to be formally charged and her case was put off until Feb. 19.

Reports from inside Bekkersdal township indicated the toll of black casualties probably would increase. The Rev. C.D. Moloye, an Anglican priest, said he had seen the body of a fifth dead black in a private home, and had received unconfirmed reports that as many as 10 blacks had been killed.

The mob attack marked the first time white policemen had been killed in South Africa’s 16 months of rioting against apartheid, the legal system of racial segregation under which 5 million whites dominate the nation’s voteless blacks.

More than 1,000 people, virtually all of them black, have been killed in the violence, including more than a dozen black policemen.

Most of the deaths were at the hands of security forces, but about one- third were cases of blacks killing other blacks in mob and tribal violence and in attacks on people considered to be collaborators with the government.

Police and soldiers backed by a helicopter hovering overhead refused to allow anyone out of Bekkersdal this morning. They searched private homes and other buildings for wounded.

Police said the two slain officers had gone to an open field between Bekkersdal and a miners’ hostel near the Cook Division of the Randfontein Estates Gold Mine, owned by Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Co.

Residents said about 500 black miners were there apparently discussing labor issues when the officers arrived and ordered them to disperse. Outdoor gatherings have been illegal since 1976.

The miners turned on the officers with home-made knives and traditional fighting sticks called ″knobkerries,″ and then took the officers’ handguns, shotguns and ammunition, police said.

Officials said the mob had begun melting away into Bekkersdal when riot squad reinforcements arrived. The dispersing blacks sniped at the riot squad with the guns they took from the dead policemen, authorities said.

Police said they then opened fire.

Police Maj. M.J. Halgryn said two dead black men were found near the destroyed vehicle used by the two slain policemen, and two bodies were found elsewhere. ″In the follow-up operation, we found 31 blacks with injuries, some caused by bullet wounds,″ he said.

Johannesburg is built above a wide deposit of gold, and the mines employ thousands of migrant workers from distant black communities.

Mine operators house the workers in male-only hostels, often long distances from their wives and children. There have been frequent outbursts of violence at the mines, some of it based on tribal differences.

In their morning report on unrest around the country, police said black arsonists destroyed a delivery vehicle near Port Elizabeth, a tense region on the Indian Ocean 600 miles south of Johannesburg.

They also reported that a policeman guarding a private home in Soweto, outside Johannesburg, opened fire to scatter a crowd of threatening blacks that had surrounded the home.

In a black township near the farming community of Carolina in eastern South Africa, another mob of arsonists extensively damaged the home and automobile of a black policeman, police said.

On the economic front, the Central Statistical Services, a government information agency, said Tuesday the annual inflation rate for 1985 reached 18.4 percent, a 64-year high.

The rate for December had risen 1.4 percent above the previous month, and was almost double the rate of two years ago.

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